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Cheever Drives to Impeccable Victory in Indy 200

25 January 1999

Lake Buena Vista, FL-January 24, 1999
Eddie Cheever drives Impeccable Car to Victory

For Eddie Cheever the #13 will not necessarily be such a bad number.
Starting from the 13th position, Cheever drove his Rachael's Gourmet
Potato Chips/Children's Beverage Group Dallara to a convincing, yet
unexpected victory. Cheever, without radio pit communication for
the last sixty laps, was not even aware that he had won the race until he
was directed to victory lane. This was Cheever's second victory at
"The Mickyard." Cheever, who lives in nearby Lake Nona the victory was
a hard-fought drive over a lot of good competition.  Cheever stated" The
car was simply impeccable. I was having a problem with the radio, and I
thought Scott Sharp was ahead of me in the lead. I thought I finished
second. The team did an unbelievable job.  They've got an old man for a
driver, so we did all right. I didn't even know I finished first until the

The race got underway with an almost perfect start. Pole-sitter Scott Sharp
led the 28-car field followed closely by Greg Ray, Scott Goodyear, Raul
Boesel and Jeff Ward. The first caution period came out on Lap 3 when
Jason Leffler spun in Turn 1. The damage to his car was to severe to carry
on. The course went green on lap #11. Sharp pulled out to a 1.048 second
lead over Greg Ray. The order of the top remained Sharp, Ray, Goodyear,
Boesel and Ward. On lap 15 Sam Schmidt spun in Turn 1. Schmidt's car
impacted the inside retaining wall. When the car came to rest, the
damage to the right rear was obvious that Schmidt's day was finished.
The race went back to green on lap #23, Sharp once again pulled out to
a 1.082 second lead over Greg Ray. Just as the field was beginning to
get settled, Donnie Beechler spun his car in turn #1 on lap #27. The
caution flag was flown for the third time in the race. Beechler returned
to the pit area to change all-four tires and adjust the front wing. The
race went back to green on lap #28. The field finally settled down and
went racing. At lap 40 the top five was Sharp, Ray, Goodyear, Boesel
and Ward. On lap 42 the lapped traffic came into play.  Sharp was able
to deal with the over-taking fairly handily. Greg Ray and Scott Goodyear
were having a duel for second spot. Goodyear dove low, using traffic as
a blocker and executed a perfect pass on Ray to take over second on lap
45. Meanwhile Sharp was pulling out to a 3 second lead.

At lap 50 the running order of the top ten was Sharp, Goodyear, Ray,
Lazier, Boesel, Ward, Brack, Cheever, Carlson and Boat. On lap 53,
Harrington slowed on the back-stretch after losing power. The fourth
yellow of the day was a perfect time for the leaders to pit. Every car
pitted except Salles, Gregoire and Carlson. The race went back to green
on lap #62. Sharp once again led the field followed by Goodyear, Ray,
Lazier and Cheever.

On lap 80  Sharp's lead over Goodyear was beginning to dwindle. Goodyear
reported to his team "The car feels good. I feel we can get a little
more out of it when we need to." By lap 98 Sharp's lead over Goodyear
was down to .451 seconds.  At lap 100 the running order of the top ten
was Sharp, Goodyear, Lazier, Cheever, Boesel, Dismore, Ward, Ray, Brack,
Boat. 13 cars were still on the lead lap.

On lap 103, Goodyear passed Sharp for the lead. Sharp's car was falling
off of the pace.  Sharp commented after the race that "something happened
in the handling of the car." On lap 108 the fifth caution of the day was
brought out when Gaulter Salles engine let go. Kenny Brack trailing behind
Salles could not check-up in time. The two cars tangled and impacted the
third turn wall. Fortunately, both drivers were able to walk away from the
incident. On lap 110 the pit-lane opened. All of the cars on the lead lap
except Raul Boesel pitted for fuel and four tires.  Boesel's Transworld
Team manager decided to leave him out on the track for another 8 laps
during the caution period. 

On lap 119, Boesel pitted for fuel and tires but returned to the
race on the tail-end of the lead lap. Pitting out of sequence was a
strategy/gamble that would eventually come back to haunt the Transworld
Team.  The race went back to green on Lap 121. No sooner had the field
exited Turn 1, when the caution light was displayed. Buddy Lazier and John
Paul,Jr. tangled while exiting Turn 1. Lazier made contact with Scott
Sharp who was trying to steer around the spinning vehicles. Also caught
in the melee were Mark Dismore and Jeff Ward. Dismore tried to check
up but was accidentally punted by Jeff Ward. Dismore did a remarkable
360 degree spin staying off of the walls and continued on. However, the
handling of  Dismore's car was greatly diminshed.  Dismore commented
after the race" the car was shaking so bad it felt like a basketball,
but we finished up strong." 

The race finally went back to green on lap 127. Scott Goodyear, who had
inherited the lead from Boesel on lap 119, led Cheever and Scott Sharp.
By lap 133 Goodyear had pulled out to a 3.5 second lead over
Cheever. During the ensuing laps, Cheever began to whittle away at
Goodyear's lead. The two driver's were battling each other for the lead
as well as catching slower traffic. On lap 142 Cheever saw an opening
entering Turn #2. Using Stefan Gregoire's car as a rolling pick. Cheever
ducked below Goodyear, boxing him behind Gregoire. Cheever immediately
began pulling out a lead.

At lap 150 the top ten running order was Cheever, Goodyear, Sharp,
Dismore, Ray, Knapp, Boesel, Ward, Boat and Carlson. On lap 158, Grey
Ray who was running in fifth place was black-flagged for mechanical
observation. On lap 163  Ray pulled into the pits. The team treated the
black-flag as if it were a routine pit-stop. The quick inspection by pit
steward revealed no visible fluid leaving the vehicle and Ray was allowed
to re-join the race.  Four laps later the source of the smoke on Ray's
car was discovered to be a gearbox problem. The day was done for Greg Ray.

Meanwhile, Cheever had pulled out to a 6.5 second lead on Goodyear. On
lap 172 the final pit stops of the day began. Cheever pitted on lap #174
giving the lead to Goodyear. The 13.5 second stop by Cheever's crew
allowed him to return to the race in 8th place. On lap #177 Goodyear
pitted for tires and fuel in 10.5 seconds. The pit stop gave Sharp the
lead, who had not led since lap 102. On lap 181, Sharp pitted for tires
and fuel giving the lead to Boesel. Just as Sharp was exiting the pit
area John Hollansworth brushed the outside of Turn 2 bringing out the
seventh caution period of the day. The timing of the yellow could not
have come at a worse time for Sharp who went a lap down but appeared
to be working in the favor of Boesel. The crew for Boesel reported that
they were not going to pit.

On lap #190 the green flag waved for what was going to become a 10 lap
shoot-out. The top five were Boesel, Cheever, Goodyear, Ward and Sharp who
was a lap down. On lap #191 Sharp, who was in between Boesel and Cheever
in traffic sequence, passed Boesel to get back on the lead lap. On lap
193 Cheever passed Boesel  for the lead. The gamble by Boesel's crew to
stretch the fuel window was lost when his engine sputtered in Turn 2 on
lap 193. Boesel entered the pits for a splash and go but his visions
of victory were gone.  Cheever pulled away to win by 5.1 seconds over
Scott Goodyear and found his way to victory lane in his "impeccable car."

Race Statistics

Time of Race:1 hour 41 minutes  Margin of Victory: 5.148 seconds  Fastest
Lap:Scott Sharp
Lap 195, 166.121

Lap Leaders	Laps	  # Times Led
Scott Sharp	103		3
Eddie Cheever	 40		2
Scott Goodyear   36		3
Raul Boesel	 19 		2
Tyce Carlson	  2		1

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel